The Troubled Trio

August 01, 2018:

Illyana meets up with Rachel and Kitty and brings along a few *friends*.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

A Bagel Shop:

All is right with the world. The sun shines brightly, the birds chirp cheerily and the bagels rise and bake happily. Within the nondescript cookie-cutter like shop employees work and customers buy. Some customers take their purchases to go while others eat within. It's really a well-oiled machine - nothing can go wrong. Really. The only thing that *would* be bad is if the business ran out of cream cheese.

The horrors.

Elsewhere - Specifically Limbo:

There's something to be said for living in a Hell Dimension. For instance nothing is ever easy, it's never quiet, things never go smoothly and it's never ever boring. There are always things to do, problems to be solved, minor demonic rebellions to put down and what Illyana Rasputin wouldn't give for a good old-fashioned demonic rebellion right about now.

Instead the demoness is currently dealing with something much worse. The shredding of the veil that keeps realities and dimensions separate. She stands upon a precipice, the red rock jutting high into the red sky. Her blue-eyes are focused above her, narrowed to mere slits, as she watches only something she can see. A single thread begins to unravel, opening a doorway from another realm (far worse than her own) into Limbo. "By the dark abyss." Spats the blonde-haired woman, the curse only adding fuel to her already bad mood.

Her arm extends outward away from her body and with that movement the hilt of a silver sword suddenly fills her hand. Eldritch flame leaps from the metallic blade itself and licks hungrily into the air, and with a snarl, Illyana launches herself up into the sky.

"YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" Screams the demoness even as her leap defies all the normal laws of physics.

Today it's Kitty that sets the plans. And so it is that she and Rachel are sitting at a bagel shop outside of Westchester. It's close enough to Manhattan to have all the proper toppings and ensure the place actually makes their own bagels (rather than just buying them at Costco and making bagel sandwiches out of them). Once she started exploring the middle ground between the Mansion and Manhattan, she found little gems like this and is happy to bring Rachel here.

There's a large paper cup of coffee steaming on the table in front of her and Kitty pries apart parts of her bagel and then arranging its toppings meticulously. There's a little bit of cream cheese, then a piece of lox. Each piece is handed separately. She's not smearing an entire bagel with cream cheese and ten slapping on lox on top of it.

"You know, it's been a little while since I actually saw Illyana. Piotr and I have talked about her quite a bit while we were researching the collars, however I haven't seen her in person in months, I think." The renewed knowledge of that makes her frown as she puts all those pieces together. "You haven't seen her lately, have you? I'm worried. Whenever Illyana disappears for a bit, I worry she's fallen into the Limbo equivalent of demon quicksand."

Rachel is more than happy for a chance to make up for earlier bagel disappointments. X-mansion cafeteria bagels eaten off a kitchen prep counter may taste good when you've just finished struggling to get out of bed, but they leave you with the empty knowledge that you live near NYC and are doing bagels the chump way.

Not that Rachel would ever accuse Xavier of buying bagels from Costco. No. Never.

It's large cups of coffee for Rachel, too. A taste for entirely too much black coffee is one of the many things she picked up during her first wild years in London of being a (mostly) concern-free young woman. That (mostly) is still in place, and she looks the part: a lightweight blue sweater, sleeves rolled up, with SHUT UP in red-and-white layered on the front, plus an artsy, assymetrical white miniskirt that has some red geometric patterns and partial pleats on one side. She's ditched her Doc Martens for another set of over-the-ankle boots that are just a bit more avant-garde, featuring a glossy black-and-blue ombre with some silver-studded straps wrapped around in irregular patterns. Her gold-rimmed sunglasses rest on the table next to her elbow.

Unlike Kitty, Rachel hangs back on the bagel prep while she watches the other woman. She ends up trying to copy the meticulousness, but ends up going a little too hard on the toppings. More is better, right?

"Not for months," says Rachel. "It was sometime before my UK trip."

Rachel taps her knife against her bagel while she considers. This has a side-effect of smearing on a little extra cream cheese on the side rather than the top. This is true terror.

"We need some kind of magical Illyana phone," she eventually decides. "Preferably one that isn't made out of demons."

Whether demonic quicksand or simply busy Illyana has been the equivalent of 'quiet' for at least two months.

That's all about to change.


The soulsword *sinks* into the air and sky, the blade disappearing from the casual observer's sight.

The woman who wields it grunts from the impact and then stiffens from something more. Energy, a kind she's felt before, suddenly runs wildly through her Soulsword and by extension herself. For Illyana it feels as if she's touched a live wire and for those first few seconds she grits her teeth and tries to weather the storm. Only this storm soon turns into a Category 5 in short order -

With a surge of energy Illyana is literally *thrown* away from that threadbare spot within her realm and seconds later the seam *BURSTS* open. Creatures of all shapes and sizes pour forth, from one realm to hers.

Illyana, herself, falls insensate from the sky, silver armor haphazardly forming around her body as it tries to protect her from the residual energy that crackles within it. Not to mention the potential landing should the woman hit the ground, thankfully before she can hit the ground some innate sense of self-preservation pulls Yana back to semi-consciousness.

"Spit and Hades." She croaks and with an internal tug to her mutant ability Illyana opens up a stepping disc within Limbo with one thought clearly held in her head - Pryde.

Kitty Pryde to be exact. The portals strive to fulfill their Mistress' wish of where to go to, or who to actually go to.

And so, as Kitty and Rachel smear their bagels with cream cheese and lox and speak of things that friends often do, a corresponding circular portal of silver and white light suddenly expands not three or four feet from the two.

The first thing to fall through is Illyana, the second her soulsword - both are announced by a heavy thud and a lighter clatter. The portal itself closes with a wink of light and for a minute the patrons around sit stunned.

But it won't last long, not as more stepping discs appear. The portals are ragged things, oval versus circular and the edges look torn, frayed, versus smooth and clean-cut. Not that it matters. Not when those portals begin to regurgitate creatures of all shapes and sizes. Small ones, little roly-poly toothsome things (almost cute in their own right), fall through first. They plop, plop, plop down upon tabletops and people.

Predictably people start to scream.

An observant person, Kitty watches as Rachel starts to pile her pieces of bagel high. For a moment, she almost stops her, but then realizes she may be being bagel elitist. Let her make her own choices!

"Magic Illyana phone. I like it. Something demon proof is, certainly best." As their friend tends to be completely and utterly surrounded by them. Popping another bite into her mouth she makes a bit of a vexed expression on her face when Rachel confirms she has also not heard from Illyana since before her UK trip. Hm. They should probably check in. Her joke about being trapped in demon quicksand is really only half a quip. A part of her truly worries about it.

"I'll message Piotr. I'm sure he knows how to get in contact with her. She can portal in and we can all get drinks to catch up."

The word up is not even fully out of Kitty's lips when there is the 'pop' of a portal opening nearby. Kitty's ears suddenly pop, as if she were in an airplane taking off and a hand that was about to reach for her phone instead goes for her bag where there is a sword hidden.

And then, there is Illyana. "Speak of the devil!" Kitty can't help but blurt out. "Or, wait, that's not I mean, not you. Just. Holy crap, Illy, we were just talking about you." And then there are roly-poly demons following her.

"JEEZ, Illy, are those demons?!" It's a silly question, of course they are demons, they're following her through a portal. Immediately going into damage control, she starts to gesture people to exit either into the kitchens or through the door. "Everyone out!"

In defense of the bagel elitism, Rachel only vaguely has an idea of what she's doing. Very vague. She decides to add another piece of lox because there was a clear spot.


Rachel sits up straight, raising her hand as she turns to face the disturbance. People who aren't aware of her sickening amount of psychic nonsense going on might think that it's a reflexive and very physical attempt to ward away danger.

Mercifully, there is no TK punching immediately needed.

"Illyana?" says Rachel, uncertain. Nobody falls like that by choice. Well, not Illyana, Rachel imagines.

pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop —

"I said no demon phones!" Rachel hisses at the next wave of stepping discs, standing up with such disregard for manners that her chair falls back behind her. She spreads her arms wide, launching a group of bitey crawley things back up into the sky the moment they touch ground. Her telekinesis bubbles them all together in a big, writhing, very unattractive sphere.

This would be great, except there's more of them.

Rachel uses her authority voice.

"She said everyone OUT!"

Her authority voice is good, but what makes it great is a telepathic nudge that 'surfaces' the desire to flee to safety among the bystanders so they don't get caught up with competing impulses like 'scream' or 'take pictures' or 'save your bagel.'

Rachel thrusts her other hand forward, knocking back the hellish cuddleworms to press them against a wall. She really hopes the next few seconds involve Illyana announcing that she knows how to stop this from happening, because if there's much more than this, she's going to need to start juggling.

The screaming persist and while Kitty does try to direct people out - whether through the kitchen or the door - most don't seem to follow her commands.

They simply run nilly-willy as those roly-poly demons continue to rain downward. Tables and chairs are knocked over, plates upended.

Two fall upon a table not far from the women and as the two little demons drop upon the wooden tabletop they turn bright yellow eyes to the area around themselves. Then they hop off chattering in their tongue to one another.

The conversation goes something like this (if only Doug were here to translate):

Demon One: Food.
Demon Two: Yes. So much food. You take first bite.
Demon One: Kind of you.

And with those last words said the first demon contorts itself into something of a ball and rolls right at Kitty Pryde. Once close enough the demon unrolls itself and literally lunches itself at the brown-haired woman. It's striving to take a bite out of the arm she gestures with.

The second little demon casts its hungry gaze around and with a soft grunt it rolls right on over to a broken plate on the floor. Ceramic shards and chunks of bagel are quickly eaten by that demonling.

Demon Two: Hey Fredezu this tasty.

By this time Illyana has gotten her arm beneath her, enough so that she levers herself upward, blue-eyes sweeping to Kitty. "Pryde." She states hoarsely, "Still observant as ever I see." Then it's over to Rachel and while Illyana doesn't often show a large range of emotion relief might be seen now, "Ray's here too? Good, I imagine we'll need her help too."

Though the question remains - what's a demon phone? But that particular bit of banter is pushed off to the side as Yana struggles to her feet.

A swath of roly poly demons are picked up in Rachel's telekinetic bubble. At first confusion grips the creatures, but soon enough their little devious eyes connect and as one they fold in upon themselves, presenting spines and prickles to the bubble that surrounds them. Then they push against it with all their demonic strength and sharp edges.

Rachel's added voice seems to help, but really it's that telepathic nudge that gets people finally moving. Quickly now, as Rachel slams another group of roly-polys into the wall, people begin to exit stage left.

Finally, Yana is back upon her feet though smoke rises from her form. With her better vantage point the blonde demoness spies the demon fling itself to her friend, and with a pivot and a kick, Illyana sends her soulsword toward her BFF. "Pryde, catch!"

Kitty gives Illyana a very dry look at her quip at being as observant as ever. "So I take it things are as usual?" That's her own attempt at witty banter at the start of a fight. She knows tropes, she can get on board!

Rachel's quick thinking and help in getting everyone to leave the cafe is met with a grateful look. Right now, she is doing what she can, but also knows just how difficult it is to try and make a scared crowd of people move the way anyone in charge would wan them to move.

In the interim, the rolly-polly demon is lunging at her and she immediately phases. However, not wanting it to crash into the table behind her, she reaches out to snag it by whatever appendage she can find as soon as it is through her in an attempt to fling it backward and onto the ground. This does mean, however, the second demon manages to get something of a bite on her. With a cry of pain, she jerks backward in an attempt to dislodge it.

The soul sword is tossed and instinctively she grabs it out of the air. Being a magic sword, the hilt is in her hand and she uses the same momentum to swing downward to cut off the offending demon that is currently trying to eat her.

"Good to see you, too, Yana," says Rachel. Few people can affect such a wry tone of voice while telekinetically balancing an invading force of demons, but this esoteric and dread power belongs to the woman once called Phoenix.

Rachel glances away to get actual eyes on the situation instead of relying on her various psychic senses. Telepathy is giving her some static — she suspects the unfamiliar magical factor is throwing her off — but telekinetic mapping remains viable. It's unfortunate that there's a lot of demands being made on her telekinesis right now.

The bubbled demons are caught. The pinned demons, too, but less neatly. She could maybe transfer the pinned ones into another bubble — but there's more running around that she needs to trap now. Still projecting her telepathic suggestion, Rachel pivots to try extending her attention to a fourth area to make another sweep for a chunk of demons. If she lines up a TK wave — right there

The bubble-suspended demons interlock with fiendish unity, pressing outward. Rachel's eyes widen as she feels her TK construct buckle. They're strong, stronger than she expected anything of their size to be. Then again, do demons ever play fair?

The bubble expands as the demons gain inches. Rachel spares a glance for the wall, where the demons haven't gotten organized — and to where Kitty is herding people out. She needs to stop doing one of these three things RIGHT NOW if she wants to keep doing any of them.

"Kitty!" Rachel shouts, not seeing but instead feeling an echo of the pain. Rachel used to keep up a psi-link with everyone on Excalibur. It's hard not to fall into the habit, especially with feelings.

With impetuous decision, Rachel raises her other hand upward, away from the wall and toward the bubble. The demons pinned on the wall are freed, but the ones in the bubble find themselves mashed back together with renewed force. Rachel couldn't drop the telepathic suggestion. These people need to run far, far away.

But that still leaves Rachel with a fancy sphere of demons. She floats up from the ground, eyes burning red as she looks down at the fanged little monsters she was forced to free.

"Do they have Katamari in hell?"

Bringing both arms crashing down, Rachel flings her TK orb into the ground, rolling it violently through where she left all her once-and-now-again prey.

Kitty's witty return prompts a half-a-grin from Illyana, as she says, "Got it in one." Then her expression sobers, because this is actually worse.

Not that she voices that thought, not when Kitty phases and then grabs the first demon. Her grip on its foot is quite firm and with a jerk of her arm she sends 'Fred' flying. It slams hard into the ground and with a little wheeze it stays put. Unconscious.

The second little demon holds fast once it has its teeth sunken into Kitty's flesh. It's almost piranha like with the strength behind its bite. It feels a sense of triumph for a second, two at the most, before Illyana's soulsword is deftly swung downward, shearing the thing neatly in half. Yellow blood, if you want to call it that, splatters haphazardly from that killing blow and where it touches a hiss can be heard.

"Kitty, you ok?" Yana calls out, concern heard within the demoness' voice, and then to Ray, "Tell me what Katamari is and I'll let you know." Is Illyana's retort to Rachel's question, "But if I had to guess, the magic 8-ball says yes."

The demons that were being so literally squished against the wall find themselves free and it's enough that the group of roly-polys give a ragged sounding cheer. Though cheer really equates to a chorus of grunts and growls, just with a happy lilt to the timbre. That cheer soon turns to fear as the ball of roly-polys finds itself FLUNG directly at them.

The nearest demon chitters and once again it translates to: Oh no.

Then the roly-polys find themselves squished into their mates. Some splatter with the force of Rachel's throw and as their bodies explode that same yellow blood lashes out with sizzling intent.

Then Yana pauses as a sense of something is felt. The loosened thread within Limbo has amassed a dozen individuals strings and it continues to grow.

"We have bigger problems." Illyana says, even as a half-mauled upon bagel whips past her face. "Much bigger." A look turns to Pryde, "Get ready with the sword -" Then to Ray, "We're shifting locations."

Now Illyana spreads her arms wide and a portal opens beneath the woman's feet before it raises upward, intending to snag the levitating Rachel as well. When the trio reappears they'll find themselves within Limbo, upon the jagged red-stoned cliff and Yana points upward to the sky.

"We need to close that."

Within the sky and behind the rip sits something large, larger than the roly-polys, and it gives the impression of a lizard-eye, a similar muzzle and leathery skin. It's almost draconic in nature and it looks mean.

"The small demons are nothing compared to that. We need to close the hole ASAP."

"Pryde you can be the needle, Ray the thimble and I'll supply the thread."

Both Rachel's shout and Yana's immediate cry to figure out her wellbeing is met with a moment of silence as Kitty slices the demon that latched on in half. Turning on the balls of her feet, the sword flicks in a very precise moment downward to clear the souldsword of the yellow blood. Or, at least, that is what it would do if it were Kitty's regular katana and need such a motion. However, old habits die hard.

"I'm okay," she says, shaking her arm a few times to clear it of pain and any stray blood. Rachel and Illyana's effective push back of the demons is met with a grin. It's almost like old times. "Katamari is using a small ball to roll up whatever is around it into a big ball that could eventually roll up planets," she tells Illyana. It's not something that truly needs an explanation, but her inner nerd felt the need to explain Rachel's perfect quip for Illyana to understand. In conclusion, "So, hilarious."

Shifting locations? She looks to Rachel for a moment and then the world is shifting. If she hadn't have experienced it before, it's likely she would be motion sick. "Oh, okay, so, yeah, exactly like usual," she says as she takes a breath to steady herself.

A glance upward at the rip in the sky is met with a tilt of the head. "Okay. I'm down. So, do I just slash at it with the sword or do I have to do something substantially magicky? I can yell Expelliarmus at it while I'm slashing."

Rachel floats backward when the crushing proves to be far more energetic than she expected. A spurt of yellow ichor hurtles past her face, landing on a table and eating straight through. Rachel gives the hole a wide-eyed look. Okay, message received.

"What Kitty said. Also a cute game I used to play to de-stress," she calls back to Illyana. "I was asking them. Rhetorically. It was kind of a one-liner — what, shifting?"

The stepping disc comes floating after her. Rachel glances back to meet Kitty's look, then shifts her attention to the remaining bubble of demons. She makes a fatal decision. It is not one she enjoys. She only has time to clench her fist shut before the portal whisks her away to the next phase of bagel interruption.

The three women are gone to Limbo. In Rachel's absence, a giant slurry of acidic yellow blood eats a hole straight down to the sewer system. At least insurance is probably going to pay out.

Rachel alights upon the ground when she finds herself in the lands of Limbo. A sense of inversion comes over her, like she's standing in the sky and the endless void is beneath her. But there's stone under her feet and —

Rachel's psychic barriers bristle. Whatever the thing in the sky is, she instinctively does not want to catch any stray psi-links with it. Excalibur taught her that making mind-to-mind contact with strange aliens is the quickest way to make a bad situation worse.

"I can thimble," she says, shifting her weight from one foot to the other as she keeps a wary watch on the evil sky eye thing. "What do we need to do? Am I hitting it?"

The explanation of just what Katamari is earns a look from Illyana.

Definitely a look. Part amusement and disbelief.

Rachel makes her decision, on what to do with the bubbled demonlings, and the bagel shop floor finds itself awash in demonic acid. This will definitely be quite the claim when the business files it. Definite act of gods for the damage.

Then it's back to the situation at hand. "Just like usual, yes." Responds Illyana to Kitty, and then at her question - of what to do - Illyana begins to answer. Only she doesn't quite make it far, not when Kitty mentions Expelliarmus. A slow look turns to Kitty now, something full of dry amusement, "You are *so* going to pay for that one, Kitty. Just saying." But not right now, that's for certain.

Thankfully Rachel's question refocuses Illyana's attention and the demoness looks between the two women. "Ray, I'm going to need you to TK barrier the hole and if anything tries to make it out punch it." Then to Kitty, "While Ray's holding it closed you're going to phase walk on up there and stab the sword into the tear, once you do that I'll funnel magical energies straight through the blade to close the wound above."

"Ready?" The demoness asks, completely rhetorical and even as the others potentially answer there's a rumble from above. It sounds like thunder, but in reality it's the dragon-beast pushing against the breach that lingers high in the sky.

It's easy to see with each shove of its large head that the rupture widens. It really won't take long for it to fracture large enough that it will fit through.

"Now or never." Yana says, her feet being planted firmly against the ground, her arms rising upward. Already Eldritch energy crackles around her hands and arms.

"Got it," says Rachel. "Normally I don't wear skirts on flying days, but —"

Rachel reaches up and runs her hands through her hair. Her clothing melts and blurs, her silhouette shifting as she restructures the material. By the time she drops her hands, she's wearing her latest red-and-yellow iteration on her spiked bodysuit concept — one that Illyana's seen more often than Kitty, but is new to neither of them at this point.

"— not a problem."

Rachel turns and walks backward toward the edge of the outcropping. She points at both Illyana and Kitty. "Catch you ladies on the other side."

And then she runs out of room, stepping out into nothingness and falling out of view. A moment later, Rachel comes rocketing back up as she flies toward the rift.

"HEY!" Rachel roars at the eye. Can eyes hear? Who cares.

Hovering close enough that the tremendous, baleful eye consumes all of her vision, Rachel raises her hands as if squaring up to box. She sizes up her competition — and then throws a punch. Another. And another — except each strike translates to dozens of booming, telekinetic rams large enough to shockwave through the air, violent enough to level buildings. The barrage continues as Rachel feels out what she's doing here: the beast, the rift, everything. She's applied her telekinetics to many strange anomalies in the past, but the thing about anomalies is that they're rarely the same twice.


Rachel spreads her arms wide. A brief hint of flame flickers around her, tracing wings that aren't really there. With a tensing of her entire body, Rachel brings her hands together in fierce commandment. Her telekinetic might — now that she's had time to feel where she can thread it through the disturbance — pulls hard, pulls tight, pulls closed.

She isn't sure if it's going to work. She isn't sure if it can work. Luckily, it's not just up to her.

She trusts her friends to seal the deal.

"It's pretty adorable," Kitty agrees with Rachel about Katamari. But, then it's down to business. Illyana quickly and succinctly explains what needs to be done and despite the fact that she was living a totally bagel filled, demon-free existence mere minutes ago has barely even registered in her head. That might be a debrief discussion later.

She is the needle, however, so keeping in the theme of nerd references, she whispers to herself, "Sansa can keep her sewing, I've got a needle of my own." She can be Arya if she wants to be: this is Limbo, after all. If she's going to be Arya anywhere? Here's the time.

"You know," she tells Illyana with a smirk, "I see you for five minutes and I'm already knee deep in demons." Reaching out, she puts a hand on her friend's shoulder. "It's good to see you."

And then she's entirely focused in front of her. Rachel is the thimble, she's distracting everyone by being a big juicy target. Immediately, Kitty phases. She's not exactly invisible, but she's harder to see. And though it is slow going, she steps upward as if on invisible steps toward the cut in the sky. She's got this.

The Soul Sword is gripped very tightly in her hand and she aims it right for that tear. As soon as she is close enough, she swings with a decisive and downward arc.

The change of clothes brings a small grin to Illyana's expression, then Ray steps off the cliff and plummets.

Others might gasp, or offer denials, but Illyana just waits. It's only a second or two of being patient and then Rachel Summers rises upward like the proverbial Phoenix she is.

The telekinetic punches cause the beast to rear backwards, a roar echoing out from the split in time and space. It definitely has a draconic look to it. Long muzzle, longer neck, wings, serpentine tail and while it reels briefly from Rachel's smackdown it doesn't necessarily retreat. Instead it continues to rear backwards, gearing up to lash outward at the red-headed woman, but before it can do that something happens.

Like threads being pulled tight, the rent within the sky closes against any further intrusion thanks to Rachel's telekinetic commands.

But it won't hold long. Not as the large demon slams itself against the temporary seal. Its weight is immense and coupled with its strength, Rachel will find her grasp upon those threads loosening. It's a definite losing battle, but thankfully she's not alone in this.

The touch upon her shoulder brings Yana's blue eyes back to Kitty, and her friend's worse bring a warmth to her typically flat eyes. "I missed you too, Roomie. Now let's finish this."

Upward Kitty walks, as Rachel continues to hold the beast at bay, and as Kitty rises high into the air, Illyana pulls forth as much magical energy as she can.

Flame flickers around Rachel to echo the form of a bird and for Illyana the harsh white-light of Eldritch energy manifests as something darker. Horns and tail, hooves and back-bent legs and as the two women manifest what lies within their hearts, the shadow that's Kitty Pryde continues her climb upward. Then with one last step the brown-haired woman swings the soulsword high and then down and just as the blade hits the fissure Illyana releases all the energy she's amassed.

Magic and sword and telekinetic might work in sync to stitch and knot the weakened wall of reality and as the last string is pulled tight, the thwarted demon lets loose with one final roar. A sound that vibrates the air around Rachel, Kitty and Illyana. That causes rock and dust to rise upward from the cliff face. It has been defeated. For now.

Rachel remains in tensed poise, arms together, narrowed eyes fixed on the rift. She doesn't believe for a moment that it's this easy. If it was, Illyana would have done it herself. There's a counterpunch lurking somewhere, and she's got to be ready for it.

Technically, Rachel is ready when it does. Technically. Functionally, all the reinforcing she could manage wasn't enough. The great, shuddering bulk of the thing on the other side of the rift comes crashing down upon her, and all that Rachel can do is hold on.

It's not elegant. Rachel cries out. She plummets a few dozen feet in the air as she briefly forgets about the telekinesis keeping her aloft in favor of throwing her focus into the telekinesis keeping the rift shut.

"This sucks!" she shouts. This concludes Rachel's status report.

Her hands are cramping. Her muscles ache from the lack of rest. Rachel grits her teeth. She can feel the fire creeping at the edges of her face — at the tattoos. Her marks. She snarls, because if she has to snarl, it should be directed at the Smaug-looking jerk on the other side of the rift.

Everything she has — everything she can find, everything she can use — she pours it into the rift. For every dozen telekinetic stitches that burst, she finds maybe another seven to weave in. The numbers are against her.

Well, not really. It's still three on one.

A flash of light on a blade's edge. A flash of light from a demon's soul. The beast's roar of defeat is so ear-achingly painful that Rachel reflexively raises a barrier around her ears to dampen the noise. And then, she realizes that she can do something reflexive like that. There's nothing pushing on her threads.

Rachel floats back down to the ledge, dropping her arms to her sides and releasing all stitchwork she was holding onto. She alights in the settling dust, gently stirring up some of it all over again. She exhales, letting her mind let go of all those extra points of focus so that it can rest.

Rachel glances over to Illyana. Her gaze dips briefly to catch the hooves and tail, but she says nothing on that subject. Instead, she favors the other woman with an easy smile.

"Is this what you do all day?"

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